The Optical Lasso by Marc Corwin

The Optical Lasso

Beware of Neptune's Dark Side
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Corwin tells the story of a soldier and his powerful invention in this debut sci-fi novel.

Cmdr. Jason Cody wakes up a prisoner of a terrifying alien enemy, his body dismembered by days of torture and experimentation. His fellow prisoner is a lieutenant, Cat, a woman he’s never met before and whose perfect beauty engenders reflexive suspicion: “It’s almost as if they drilled down into his cerebellum and extracted a virtual woman befitting his every exacting requirement.” However, they have no other choice but to trust each other. Cat manages to spring them from their prison, and Cody restores his body in the regenerative “pus” of their alien captors. It not only regrows his limbs, but also gives him enhanced strength and senses. As he and Cat swap information, he realizes that the team of scientists she was sent to save—the reason for her presence on the remote, dangerous planet of Vixus—didn’t include Cody at all. It turns out that he went missing 100 years earlier after disappearing into a wormhole with his incredible Optical Lasso, an invention that allows its user to see into both the past and future. The story contains two timelines: one set in Cody’s past in the 21st century and the other in his present in the 22nd. Corwin’s narrative voice is snappy and confident, if overly fond of wordplay (a chapter in which Cat battles an alien’s tongue, for example, is titled “Watch Your Tongue, Young Lady”). The structure and tone of the novel brings to mind golden age serialized sci-fi stories, and in staccato chapters, it skips forward one pressurized scene at a time. Cody even speaks in the stylized, expositional manner of a pulp hero: “What’s that noise? Sounds like chains slowly being recoiled by a mechanical device. No—the chains are hooked inside my back!” The characters don’t have much depth, and nothing about the way they speak or act is natural. However, the story’s quick cuts and ever complicating plotline will keep readers entertained.

A campy but engrossing adventure.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2015


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